It’s been a couple weeks since I last wrote here, in large part because I’ve been too sick/in pain to do much. I’ve also started going back to school, and one of my classes this semester is a history and theory of activism class. This coming week, we’re doing readings over a number of famous and infamous manifestos of other groups. These include The Woman-Identified Woman (an early lesbian-feminist manifesto), the SCUM Manifesto (an extreme pro-female anti-male manifesto), and the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto. One of our ongoing assignments through the class is to have an “activism journal” where we discuss our learning from the class as well as our experiences with activism/volunteering over the course of the semester. So this week, I’m going to do my first post of such, a manifesto of my own (a tranifesto if you will, in honor of the late Matt Kailey).
As my regular readers well know, my views and desires for the world are less extreme than those put forth within the SCUM Manifesto which demands an end to all men, nor as strict as those within the Woman-Identified Woman, which declares that lesbianism is the true enactment of feminism. My views tend to be closer in line with the GLF Manifesto previously mentioned, though not completely the same. For example, I oppose the societal enforcement of monogamy, but I do not inherently believe that gay people are more “sexually evolved” than straight.
Simply put, our society is an oppressive one, for all people. Yes, that’s right, everyone is oppressed by our society in some way. While women are the primary ones oppressed by patriarchy, men are also oppressed by the system to a lesser degree (such as the push to be straight, unfeeling, etc.). While men are the “in-power” group, they still suffer. Combine this with other aspects of identity, such as race, class, age, ability, etc. that may or may not put a person in an oppressed group, and it’s clear that while some are oppressed more than others, all are oppressed at some point in their lives. Even the wealthy, white, straight, sexual, christian male will face oppression during his life due to his age, at first due to being younger than the societal ideal, and should he live long enough, for becoming elderly. Yes, he will experience this oppression less than those of other identities within these age groups, but he will still experience some of it.
As such, our society needs a complete overhaul. Simply addressing the issues individually without changing the inherent structures of society will not fix the problems. For example, the current push for gay marriage/marriage equality within much of the industrialized world will not put an end to heterosexism, much as neither abolition nor desegregation have ended racism. It is true that these movements incrementally improve the lives of a specific minority over time (abolition did not automatically mean that people of color were treated as equals, and in fact were shortly placed into a different form of slavery, as noted by many historians). However, these assimilationist attempts only serve to leave power in the hands of those select few who have it, redefining things in their own benefit.
As such, there needs to be a complete reworking of our social and political structure. Capitalism must be abolished, as it is a source of many issues, such as the heterosexist societal norms that are in place now that were not there before the growth of capitalism. Capitalism hates the family, encouraging individual empowerment at the cost of others, while also demanding for straight couples to have children for there to be future laborers for the machine to use. Capitalism led to the slave trade, with the concept of buying, owning, and selling people. We need to place less focus on the material and more on the personal.
This means allowing all identities to be equal. Man-hating feminists, white-hating people of color, straight-hating gays, those who demand an end to the binary-affirming genders, and many others of similar temperament will not be accepted within this new society. I’ve said before how those who try to be so gender-exceptional that they look down on those whose sex, gender identity, and presentation are male/man/masculine and female/woman/feminine are merely creating a new form of gender binary by not accepting all gender identities. Likewise, those who are not accepting of the sexual/relational desires and practices of others have no place in this new world. This means not only those who oppose polyamorous relationships, but also those poly individuals who oppose monoamory, those who are opposed to any form of sexual orientation (be this gay-hating straights, ace-hating bisexuals, bi-hating gays, etc.), and even the internecine conflicts within the alternative sexual communities (e.g. M/s vs. D/s vs. kink vs. vanilla).
One needs only look to the news to find examples of our current society failing. White police officers killing unarmed black men and not being punished for it. Trans people assaulted and raped on buses and subways while onlookers do nothing. Priests sexually assaulting children to “cure them of homosexuality” being let off the hook by the courts. Veterans being imprisoned for revealing war crimes while the politicians who commit/order war crimes remain in power. We can only put up with so many horrors before we must force a change. Thus was the impetus for the Stonewall Riots, as well as the more recent ones in Ferguson. While violence is not the answer, there are times where it becomes the best solution to address shortcomings within society as a whole.
Do I think these changes will happen overnight, or even within my lifetime? No. But we need to start them now, before things get out of hand. Proponents of freer gun rights, particularly here in the States, often believe that we will one day need to rise up in armed rebellion and fight our government, as we did during the Revolutionary War. However, the fact of the matter is, we have already failed. Our battlefield is no longer going to be trenches, hills, forests, or any other such combat terrain. No, our battlefield is the hearts and minds of others. Only then can we fix this failing world.